By Gordon Robinson, Property Development Director, United Trust Bank
As I write, I’m preparing to spend a few days in Cannes in the sunny South of France. ‘But why are you telling me about your holidays?’ you ask. Stick with me on this one because this is no city break. It’s going to be work, work, work.
For four days in March, Cannes plays host to Le Marché International des Professionnels de l’immobilier, or MIPIM for short. MIPIM bills itself as the ‘The Leading Real Estate Event For Property Professionals’ and as it is now in its 26th year and welcomes around 20,000 delegates from over 90 countries, so who am I to argue?
The huge Palais Des Festivals is the focal point of the conference and inside there will be hundreds of trade stands, presentations and workshops. Although many of the stands will be aimed at attracting interest in the redevelopment of large cities around Europe Russia and West Africa, there’s always a strong UK presence with many companies represented by people empowered to do deals back in Britain. This will by my tenth time at MIPIM and I consider it a vital component of networking in order to attract new business into the Bank.
Although the main exhibition is always based inside the Palais Des Festivals, more generally referred to as ‘the bunker’, much of the real business of MIPIM is conducted off-base. The climate is well suited to meetings over a strong coffee outside one of the many cafes and restaurants which line Cannes’ harbour. And it’s the meetings rather than the trade stands which are the reason why I go back year after year.
Don’t for a second think that MIPIM is one gigantic, corporate jolly, far from it. 10 years ago it may have had a reputation as being something of a reward for successful executives who had the chance to escape the British weather for a few days. Now though, MIPIM is about long days rather than long lunches and you’re more likely to see delegates swigging from bottles of Perrier than Moet.
With so many senior people and decision makers from the same industry in the same place, it feels like we fit in several months’ worth of meetings in four days. As well as the ones I’ve already arranged I always allow time to fit in many more meetings I expect to be invited along to. MIPIM attracts developers, architects, accountants, lenders, surveyors and intermediaries and sometimes a chance meeting or conversation will lead to an introduction to a developer looking for a finance partner or a broker looking to widen his or her circle of potential funders. I expect to be starting with breakfast meetings and have back to back appointments right through the day and late into the night.
This year, we’ll have a team of four people in Cannes representing the Bank. Along with myself will be Noel Meredith, who heads the Development Finance team, Alan Margolis, the man in charge of Bridging and Rob Love, also from the Bridging team. MIPIM runs from the 10th to the 13th of March so by the time you read this we should all be back in the office. I guarantee we’ll be tired, if we’re lucky we may even have slightly better tans, but most importantly we will be looking back on four days of meetings and introductions which will see United Trust Bank involved in many interesting projects in 2015 and beyond.